Stone, rock, sand and clay all contain respirable crystalline silica (RCS). Workers who have been exposed to RCS over a long period of time may develop an industrial or occupational disease called silicosis.
Silicosis is an avoidable, irreversible, long-term disease which is caused by inhaling large amounts of silica dust. Once inside the lungs, the dust particles are attacked by the immune system, which causes an inflammation and gradually results in areas of hardened and scarred lung tissue (fibrosis). Lung tissue scarred in such a way results in a loss of function and sufferers often become house-bound or bed-bound, with an additional risk of heart failure complications. If you or a loved one had developed silicosis and consider that it was due to your work environment then you may be able to bring a silicosis compensation claim.
Duty of care
Employers have a legal duty to protect their employees from the risks of exposure to silica dust, to provide them with appropriate training and personal protective equipment (PPE).
If an employer has not taken steps to protect you or a loved from silicosis then our industrial or occupational disease lawyers may be able to help you bring a claim for compensation.
High risk occupations and industries
Occupations and industries with a high exposure risk to RCS include:
- Ceramic manufacturing
- Glass manufacturing
- Rock drillers
- Slate works
- Stone masonry
- industries using silica flour to manufacture goods
Period between exposure and symptoms
The symptoms of silicosis can take many years to develop and the majority of employees do not experience problems until long after they worked with silica. Exposure of ten to twenty years is generally required although exposure times can be less depending upon the working conditions.
Types of silicosis
There are three main types of silicosis:
- Chronic silicosis – appears ten to thirty years after exposure, affects the upper lungs and occasionally causes extensive scarring. The silica dust causes areas of swelling in the lungs and the chest lymph node, which makes breathing more difficult.
- Accelerated silicosis – occurs within ten years of high-level exposure. In accelerated silicosis, swelling in the lungs and symptoms occur faster than in chronic silicosis.
- Acute silicosis – causes a persistent cough, weight loss, and fatigue within a few weeks or years of exposure to inhaled silica. This type of silicosis can cause the lungs to be very inflamed and can fill with fluid, which causes severe shortness of breath and low blood oxygen levels.
Due to the length of time between exposure to silica and the eventual symptoms of silicosis some clients express concern that this will prevent them in making a claim for compensation. Our industrial disease lawyers have plenty of experience in tracing insurers of former employers and restoring old companies to the register, which means that the delay between diagnosis and your exposure should not cause a problem. Indeed due to the very nature of silicosis we often bring claims on behalf of clients who were exposed to silica sometime ago and the employer they worked for is no longer trading.
Time limit to bring a claim
An individual generally has three years from the date of knowledge that the illness was related to their working environment to bring a compensation claim. This date of knowledge generally coincides with the silicosis diagnosis date.
If you or a loved one have developed silicosis and would like to speak with one of our Industrial Disease lawyers about making a silicosis compensation claim please call us on Freephone: 0808 164 0808 for a FREE, no obligation chat, or complete the request a call back form and we will call you.